A recent Article builds upon my Strategy post from yesterday. Written by Colin Iles, the article focuses on the need for leaders to set their short term priorities based on expectations about what the world might look like in ten years. Often, leaders feel that ten years is too long a time horizon – but the future is approaching faster than people think. This speed dynamic forces us to embrace a New Way of Thinking, one that enables us to see the future, rehearse it, and adapt to its inevitable shifts.Continue reading
In a recent Interview, Peter Diamandis talks about the rapid pace of innovation and how it is about to get a lot quicker. Diamandis has always had a positive outlook on the path of innovation – and although I share his optimism, there is no disputing societies need to map that Path. His ability to explore possible futures is very instructive, as leaders everywhere must understand the potential to advance our human development.
Mr. Diamandis believes we will see more change in the coming decade than we have in the last 100 years. He speaks of the Convergence of building blocks in the science and technology domains which contribute to the quickening pace. I’ve explored this notion of intersections in the past, but with a broadened focus. Convergence is occurring across multiple domains, not just science and technology. That additional convergence across society, economy, geopolitics, environment, philosophy, and business introduces a set of additional accelerants – but they also create obstacles.
In looking at possible futures, here are some of his predictions:
Many Future Scenarios are spawned by convergence across multiple domains. The most obvious Convergence is occurring between science and technology. I have been posting links to numerous articles that explore possible futures. These futures are important for us to understand, as they usher in a very Pivotal Decade. Here is another set of articles that help us envision the future.
A view into history helps us better understand the future. A recent Article describes this phenomenon in detail, exploring how to apply historical reasoning to the future. I have invested considerable time in understanding the Cycles of History and how they help us better understand the future. As Future Thinking becomes an increasingly bigger part of a leaders agenda, a historical perspective provides valuable input. As described in the article, the goal is to reason well, using an understanding of history to think more clearly about a range of possible futures and how probable a given outcome might be.
I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Diane Hamilton on her Take the Lead radio show. Here is a description of this segment from a Blog Post that Diane published:
If there is one thing constant in this world, that would definitely not be the future. It varies according to the different types of influences and technologies we encounter. Frank Diana, a recognized futurist, thought leader, and frequent keynote speaker, explains his thoughts on these influences that affect the future and how they come together. He goes deep into predicting trends, thought-leadership focused on emerging future, perception between real and not real, climate change, cryptocurrencies, AI, and more.
You can listen to this short interview at Take the Lead Radio. Platforms for conversation allow us as a society to discuss the various issues and opportunities that we face. Education and awareness are critical in a world that moves as fast as ours does. I thank Diane for the opportunity to have this discussion with her audience.
I just finished a book titled The Fourth Turning. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the cycles, but given my year-long focus on the past, I thought I’d give it a go – and I’m glad I did. In my continued efforts to reimagine the future, books such as this provide a richness of historical perspective. Although history was a key aspect of the book, I was more intrigued by the focus on generations, archetypes, and the cycles of our history (which last the length of a long human life). What intrigued me as a Futurist is the claim by the books authors that our past can indeed predict our future – it’s a compelling argument when viewed through the lens of these historical cycles.
So add another book to my Book Library. It was written in 1997 and accurately predicted some of the events that occurred in what the book refers to as a period of unraveling. If the cycle which has repeated itself six times was to do so again, we would have entered a crisis period somewhere prior to 2010 (great recession anyone). The crisis period would last one generation – moving towards a resolution that dramatically alters the social order by the late 2020s. Here is how the cycle is described by the book abstract.
I had the pleasure of joining Kevin Benedict on RegalixTv for a conversation about the Future. This 20 minute conversation focused on making sense of this fast changing world of ours, identifying those things that require our attention today, rehearsing the future, and more. Click the visual to view this short video discussion.
I recently added a fascinating book titled Technology Trap to my Book Library. Author Carl Benedikt Frey has done some important work in partnership with Michael A. Osborne evaluating the impact of automation on the Future of Work. In this new work of applied history, Frey draws on past revolutions to look at possible corollaries. It was Winston Churchill that said: The further Backward you Look, the Further Forward you can See. That quote has stuck with me, prompting my Looking back to see Ahead. Here is the book abstract:
Story telling is the most effective way to communicate – and in times of complexity, uncertainty, and rapid pace, it becomes even more critical. Telling stories about the future requires a broad view of an increasing number of building blocks. The visual I use attempts to look at these building blocks and the various ways they combine to enable future scenarios. The scenarios themselves are combinatorial – converging on one and other in ways that transform how we think about the future. A deeper explanation of the visual can be found Here.
I had the recent pleasure of talking with Richard Frederick about a number of topics regarding the future. Richard runs a Podcast called The Ready Room; an idea driven by his concern over the decline of civil discourse and the ideological barricades with which so many have surrounded themselves. In his words: “If only we could come out from behind our political fortresses and talk openly with one another and truly seek to open our minds to change, we could regain a shared civic trust.”
The Ready Room is Richard’s way of reaching out to others to begin this discourse. I was happy to be included in this process. You can listen to our discussion below.
Updated results: April 9th, 2019. The response has been great, but I’d like to capture more voices. Please consider taking this very short Poll.
In a recent post on What to Expect in 2019, I launched three focus areas for the coming year. This focus attempts to identify the key drivers of change and the outcomes they enable. The three areas are:
- Convergence is one of the key dynamics I expect/hope to see more of this year. A century ago, convergence across multiple domains ushered in unprecedented advancements in human development. Multiple forces will drive a similar level of convergence in the coming decade.
- The pace of innovation and change is often cited as a key difference between the next revolution and prior ones. This is one of the key catalysts driving change, and I expect it to Accelerate.
- I believe the world will experience a burst of Possibilities enabled by these forces of convergence and acceleration
Our future is very complex. The sheer number of building blocks complicates not just our ability to see the future, but any chance we have to navigate it. As these building blocks combine in ever increasing ways, the challenges multiply. Leaders of tomorrow will move towards systemic leadership, having an ability to connect dots. Innovation will move from a myopic view of offerings to systems innovation.
To accomplish this, systems thinking must be embraced by leaders. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. As leaders, we struggle with this holistic approach, choosing instead to focus on short term versus long term, and delivering immediate results versus positioning for the future. This focus is in direct conflict with where our complex future is taking us.
The conversation regarding catalysts that drive human action has been fascinating. This poll initially launched back in February has had a great response – with some great insight. Please take the poll if you have not already.
One of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation,
World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future? Please help me build on this list and identify the most significant catalysts. Choose all catalysts that you feel will contribute – or add anything that I am missing. For a deeper description of catalysts, please see the lessons from history post.
Future thinking has often focused on a three-horizon framework that allows for the continued advancement of core business, while planning for emerging opportunities. I believe the challenge these days is time compression associated with rapid advancement. When someone says to me: “I’m not worried about five years from now”, my reaction is always the same. What looks to be five years out is likely only 18 months away: A phenomenon I describe in this piece on Acceleration.
I had the pleasure of recording a Podcast with AJ Goldstein on a wide ranging set of topics. The central theme was artificial intelligence. We took a journey to the future and explored several possible paths for artificial intelligence. AJ had the following kind words to say as he shared the Podcast in various channels:
Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the world’s leading futurists, Frank Diana, to discuss the future of artificial intelligence.
Today the episode has been released, and it’s one of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had on the podcast.
Rather than provide a subjective one-sided view, with every question that I asked about the future of AI, Frank responded with presenting both sides. He helped me understand “what does the optimist say?”, “what does the pessimist say?”, “what is the utopian view?”, “what’s the dystopian view?”… and in this way it quickly became one of the most balanced conversations I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
With over 30+ years of experience to pull from, Frank provided so many fascinating lenses through which to view our changing future… all the while outlining an insightful playbook of what we can do as individuals, communities, and societies to prepare for the inevitable change that’s going to come.
AJ drove the discussion on the following topics:
- Addressing the two tipping points that have occurred thus far in humanity and changed what it means to be human– and the coming third tipping point.
- Addressing some of the common fears that people have about the implications of advanced AI and robotics on the future.
- How the shift to an automated society might cause initial elimination of jobs, but ultimately will allow more time for pursuit of creative, entrepreneurial endeavors.
- A discussion on the characteristics needed to succeed in a world of change, and what you personally should do to prepare for it.
Enjoy the show!
In a recent book titled The Future of Work, author Darrell M. West describes the Work 2.0 scenario on this emerging future visual. In exploring possible implications of a shifting work paradigm, he gets prescriptive about possible responses. This implication-response exercise sits at the heart of Future Thinking.
No one can predict this complex and uncertain future – but exercises like this help us see possible futures. In seeing them, we position ourselves to proactively shape them. In the context of work, Mr. West explores several possible responses, including another future scenario which he calls Republic 2.0. How this scenario plays out has a direct impact on the path of other scenarios. The scenario speaks to a new kind of politics. Mr. West states:
I had the pleasure of keynoting the annual Hawaiian event hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of California. The 2018 Blue Ribbon Conference was a great four-day event that focused on many pressing issues: from employment law, to politics and robots, a broad array of challenges faces the industry.
You can view my hour long keynote via this Link. You will need to register in order to view it.
Today on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on the future of prediction. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below, as well as a Twitter stream that provides insight into the topic and our discussion. The show participants included: Bonnie, Gray Scott, and myself
The buzz: “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” (Lao Tzu)
Given the uncertainty, pace, and unexpected nature of today’s world, there are too many unknowns for us to effectively predict the future. Reality check: A convergence across science, technology, politics, society, economics, the environment, and growing ethics discussion, has created a complex web that requires the type of system thinking that may exceed our human capacity. Do machines hold the answer? Can they predict the path of an overwhelming number of possible futures?
The experts speak. Frank Diana, TCS: “We have a duty to think hard about what may be, so as to better prepare society for the changes that may come” (Richard Baldwin). Gray Scott, Futurist: “Prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neo-cortex, and the foundation of intelligence” (Jeff Hawkins). Join us for Tech Magic or Hype: Can We Teach Machines to Predict?
As our emerging future shifts continuously, our challenge is to shift with it. The number of building blocks that combine continues to explode, challenging our ability to track its complexity. I’ve used a visual representation of this challenge – and I see older versions floating around – so I am updating it via this post. When I use the visual in presentations, I build towards it to avoid its overwhelming nature (which I believe accurately reflects the overwhelming nature of the challenge). I will replicate the approach here by building towards the full visual.
Convergence across aspects of science, technology, economic forces, politics, society, our environment, and a growing conversation around ethics, is creating a highly uncertain world. At the heart of the pace dynamic is the exponential progression of science and technology – reflected in the first piece of the visual.